Why The War To Demonize Serena Williams Makes Her A Winner
Serena Williams is back in the headlines, and as usual it has everything to do with her mistreatment by a sport that she’s dedicated her whole life successfully perfecting, and yet through the trials and tribulations that led to glorious triumphs — there seems to be a never-ending quest to ruin her.
The media plays a heavy role in demonizing a Black woman who looks unapologetically Black in ways that are easily mockable. I mean check out the grotesque cover pic of Williams on the Daily News, where she’s portrayed as the out-of-control, “not-so-serene” athlete who fucked up the winning moment for Naomi Osaka.
And then you have this offensive take by a White woman who is truly reveling in the privilege of being an authority on a Black woman who has had to weather more shit than she can possibly imagine. It’s disgusting to listen to White people avidly judge Black people on the basis that our experiences in this bigoted world is remotely close to equal.
When Caroline Wilson, an Australian sports journalist recklessly declares that “People have not stood up to Serena Williams,” it implies that one of the greatest athletes of our time, if not the greatest, is also a celebrated bully who somehow has avoided being adequately disciplined.
It gives the impression that just because White male tennis stars such as the iconic John McEnroe, who spent his entire career initiating yelling matches both on and off the court — have the freedom to throw their weight about with minimal consequences — it doesn’t mean a more talented Black woman can equally enjoy those allowances.
The monumental event that paired a titan of her industry against an up and coming talent, both women of color who have excelled beyond measure to get to this world class arena was distorted by the negligence of umpire Carlos Ramos, who took it upon himself to issue three code violations to Serena Williams for reasons that don’t match up.
Ramos exacted similar punishment to older sister Venus back in 2016, during the French Open, when he accused her of “looking over at her coach to receive instruction.”
Venus responded with fury by rejecting Ramos’ accusations, and pointing to the illustrious career she’s been blessed with and how she’s never been treated with such open disdain by an official.
“Honestly, I’m 36-years-old, never in my career have I had a coaching violation.” “Just don’t even go there.”
The three code violations against Serena Williams add up to $17,000, and the breakdown is $3,000 for smashing her tennis racket, $4,000 for the warning from the coach, and $10,000 for being verbally abusive to Carlos Ramos.
The war against Serena Williams has been waging long enough, and it’s clear that she will win every time.
From the audacity of the French Open to pompously ID her as the culprit who wore the body suit that violated the rules, and inspired the need to draft ways in which to keep players in check — to the deplorable reception of the Williams sisters at highly-visible tournaments like Indian Wells, where they were publicly tormented with racial attacks — and forced to initiate a 14 year boycott — there has been a consistent level of abuse that has remained conveniently unchecked.
This latest incident is just another indication of how Williams has been railroaded, and propped for the role as the “angry Black woman” whose physicality bleeds into her ability to roar her way out of situations that she creates.
While some may dismiss the references to John McEnroe and his sharp-witted temper as an outdated comparison, we can’t ignore the fact that Serena Williams was penalized for expressing how she felt as a woman. She flat out refused to accept the judgment that was thrown at her like a wet towel — that’s supposed to soak up all the grime that penetrates when exposed to permissible foulness.
But it’s not just the sport itself that has let Serena Williams down enough times to warrant permanent ire, it’s also the madness of the media and the methodical habits of those in prime positions to exact enough damage to the Black woman’s overall psyche.
Take for instance this recent gem by Australian cartoonist Mark Knight, who proudly displayed his damning masterpiece on Twitter, that depicts a ghoulish caricature of Williams evidently throwing a fit high enough to levitate her off the ground, as her wiry tresses are bundled in a shock of electrification.
Is this supposed to be amusing to White males that can’t stand the hell out of the Black woman who looks unapologetically Black, with the rack of biceps that they can only dream into existence when they box their way through the cushion-clad rings at country clubs?
Are we inlined to consider that the blonde-haired woman a few paces away — with the well-illustrated boobs and all the other features that echo righteous femininity is none other than celebrated nemesis Maria Sharapova?
This is the woman that dudes salivates for, because of her globally viable template and the fact that she can literally do no wrong in anyone’s eyes. Sharapova was suspended for doping, and she spent that welcomed vacation attending business school at Harvard University!
Williams is a first -class athlete, who has tirelessly overcome unfathomable challenges that weren’t just regulated to the courts, but outside the lines, where there are no limits, and crowds can chant racially offensive verses at two young Black women and their father, who sacrificed everything to demonstrate the exact definition of the American Dream.
To most Americans that dream has to be delivered in Whiteness — and the purity of continuing the tradition of claiming what never belonged to you or what you didn’t really earn when ancestors were beating the backs of Black people to hurry up the development — that only portions of the population are still privileged to enjoy.
Serena Williams has been persistently harassed by White male reporters about the non-existent rivalry with a White woman, who can’t ever come remotely close to amassing the roster of hits that this Black woman gorgeously accrued from blood, sweat and tears.
Even when she had to contain the tears of humiliation after choruses of the N-word greeted her entry before the matches of her lifetime.
Sharapova is a doper, but she represents the version of womanhood that won’t ever demonize her for those criminal actions. Williams is the greatest athlete alive, who continues to forge ahead, no matter the near-death experiences during childbirth or any of the other major hiccups that could’ve ended her career.
But, she’s a Black woman who is bulky enough to take the hits and not feel a damn thing.
She’s strong enough to weather infuriatingly insulting questions from emphatically shitty White male reporters, who need to know whether or not she’s threatened by the White female competitor, who surpasses her in the department that matters the most. She’s strong enough to accommodate physical issues that should’ve set her way back, but through sheer will and determination and the added measure of motherly love, she came back swinging.
She’s strong enough to have a White male cartoonist turn her into a freakish mammy with thick as fuck lips and the fieriness of a brute on the loose who is frightening enough for the more demure-like competitor to beg for mercy — even if it means losing to the beast.
The war to demonize Serena Williams is ongoing, but in the end it makes her the winner.
The events that transpired at The US Open were deplorable, and most have lent their support to the woman who deserves to be applauded for her dedication to professionalism, and the courage to speak up about the issues that give White men leverage — while women, particularly Black women, have to be systematically assaulted with the “angry Black woman label.”
The humiliation that a Black woman has to endure, even after all the championship titles, and the complete understanding of how excellence isn’t bestowed without the visionary tiles of those who love us more — is the cripplingly heartbreaking takeaway from an event that turned sour the moment a biased umpire threatened to stain two avid players of color.
The hope is for the future — and that is basically encrusted on Naomi Osaka, and the darkness of her win that will reveal the light of how lucky she was to spar against the best that ever was — and what that means for her blooming trajectory.
As for Serena Williams — we can only uplift and hail the Black woman who looks and performs in the blackness that is still not accepted or respected by community or the outside world, but to those of us who match her likeness — we will always be enduringly grateful for her ride.